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Wednesday, March 22, 2006


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I don't get it either with Radiohead. I think as you get older and build up a music knowledge base, you start to see how derivative much of the music being released actually is. So we look back with fondness at what we thought were the “real” innovators (turns out they too were derivative) and are ever less enthusiastic with the steady stream of new comers. It takes bigger and bigger innovation leaps to get our mojo going again.
I also think some people can't separate technical achievement from deeper talent. The Clash were, at best, middling in musical talent, but I consider London Calling a nearly flawless album. Fish were incredibly capable musicians, and a big yawn to listen to IMO.


You know, that’s a good point. I remember getting in an argument in the early 90s with an older co-worker about the relative greatness of R.E.M., for instance. He insisted that they were nothing new and okay at best. I disagreed vehemently and backed my points up ever so convincingly.

And then I got the Velvet Underground boxset from Top Management—for no reason, as I recall, she just knew it was out and was at the mall so she bought it for me, that incomparable and hot wonder of wonders—and heard, for the first time, basically the entire VU oeuvre from back to front (rather than the dozen or so tracks I already knew well) and realized, not just that R.E.M. was influenced by ‘em (well, duh), but the extent to which they were. For while I kinda felt like R.E.M. was simply the Velvets meets the Byrds in the South. Which isn’t that far off, although these days they really dig that 1960s Brian Wilson vibe mixed with some ambient, as well as their occasional [and generally unsuccessful] forays into T Rex glam.

But I’ve been working on a piece for Left of the Dial for a few months now about The Great American Rock and Roll Band, and I’d have to say that I still think R.E.M. is way, way up there, a serious contender for the title, influences or no. Because for me personally, I find Who Did It First interesting, but I find Who Did It Best more important. And from about 1981 to 1991, and then sporadically over the next four years, R.E.M. did what they did better than just about any other band.

So. You may be right about Radiohead’s oh so obvious influences keeping me from connecting with them, but that doesn’t affect my like of and admiration for Green Day, them guys what fancy themselves The Clash meets The Beatles or, perhaps more succinctly, a poppier Ramones with great videos. I’m not sure they’ve ever done anything new, but that doesn’t keep me from loving what they do. Maybe it’s that Radiohead gets all the critical huzzahs and Green Day doesn’t. Maybe I just instinctively distrust critical darlings.

Hm. Much to think about. For me, that is. I’ve probably bored the bejeebers out of anyone who’s made it this far, if anyone has. But thanks for kickstarting to life what passes for my brain.


Oh my god! I really want to like them too! I went to the In Rainbows concert and the lighting design was amazing and the technical prowess of the musicians is obvious, but it's all so cerebral and esoteric and abstract and difficult. I think for something to connect it should connect on a visceral level, an animal level. I enjoyed watching the people around me being transported - hands above their heads, WOO-ing and jumping and just loving it, and I envied them (especially feeling the sting of my $75 ticket). I was listening carefully, and I could never just groove on it. It's like trying to force yourself to like wine or coffee or cigars or beer or some other acquired taste that requires a lot of work to go from "ew!" to "this one is excellent" - why should I have to work to like something that is "good?" I don't go for the BritneyPop if that's what you're assuming; I have a very wide and eclectic taste in music both foreign and domestic, but this band goes down like dry medication - no matter how good it might be for me, I can't swallow it.


If you don't get the acclaim then i find it hard to believe that you understand what exciting, raw, innovative music is, its like trying to talk down the beatles, i'm not a huge fan of the beatles or pink floyd but i Understand why they are hyped and well regarded. if you listen to all of Radioheads albums and b-sides, watch the music videos and you still don't GET IT (doesnt mean you have to become a fan) then i'd start worrying because songs like lets say: "fake plastic trees, my iron lung, the bends, planet telex, street spirit, paranoid android, the trickster, punchdrunk lovesick singalong, talk show host, big boots, lift, fog, cuttooth, exit music, airbag, blow out, subterranean homesick alien, national anthem, how to dissapear completely, motion picture soundtrack, life in a glass house, knives out, you and whose army, there there, 2+2=5, go to sleep, where i end you begin, bodysnatchers, jigsaw, arpeggi, last flowers, four minute warning ....and so forth, and so on, they have so many OBVIOUS classic songs that to question it seems absurd coming from a musicians point of view. so have you been paying attention to the band in the frst place, or perhaps anything weird or different scares you off and you prefer straight up rock music which the band can be very good as well.

Mr. Explosives

Me either! People always tell me "You like U2? Then try listening to Radiohead." I really just don't get why they have such a crazy fanbase that says the are one of the best bands ever. It's way too "out there" but hey, if I like David Bowie a lot than few things should be too "out there" for me,right? I'll also never know why most Radiohead fans insist that U2 stole stuff from them, I also don't think age is a problem for me because I'm not that old or maybe I just like the good old stuff.

knight gold

stuff from them, I also don't think age is a problem for me because I'm not that old or maybe I just like the good old stuff.

Scott Holden

I was just watching The Colbert Report with Radiohead, and while I agree with their integrity concerning their music and the music industry, I don't get their music. It has never clicked with me. It is very maudlin and over dramatic and just... sort of... lame.

I sometimes wonder if anyone really likes them or if they feel they have to and it is just the band to name drop to sound deep and pretentious about music. I am glad I am not the only one.

KD Jones

When you see statements even vaguely approaching the following:
- "If you don't get the acclaim then i find it hard to believe that you understand what exciting, raw, innovative music is..."
- "... if you listen to all of Radioheads albums and b-sides, watch the music videos and you still don't GET IT (...) then i'd start worrying..."
- "...they have so many OBVIOUS classic songs that to question it seems absurd coming from a musicians point of view."
- A list of a band or individual artist's brilliant, groundbreaking, technically perfect, musically immaculate, emotionally accurate and perhaps even numinous work, AND THAT LIST CONTAINS EVERYTHING THE ARTIST OR BAND HAS PRODUCED
You can -- with absolute certainty that your artistic, philosophical, intellectual, ethical and moral standing will be unaffected -- STOP attempting to understand the reported experience caused by the artist or band as anything other than a variety of religious fundementalism and move on to a more meaningful activity.
You will, of course, be called an idiot, a Luddite and a Philistine. But then, QED.
(This coming from a person who finds "OK Computer" to be a fascinating, respectable and powerful - if messy - piece of work, and "Airbag" to be an easy candidate for my greatest pop song of all time very-short-list.)

Colin Nethercott

I am in my early fifties and a great fan of early Radiohead bar 'Pablo Honey'(i.e. The Bends, OK Computer and Kid A basically). After that I'm afraid it all went very much emperors new clothes, and I'm quite sure that's not an age thing as I consider 'Everything in its Right Place' to be an absolute masterpiece. I came to this site after listening to some King Crimson and wondering who else might have compared them to (especially later) Radiohead, so I'm glad I'm not the only one. I still can't find the particular King Crimson track I remember from the Old Grey Whistle Test though, all I can say in describing it is that it must be pre-1984 and has a repeat conventional keyboards riff running through it and (as I recall) is very little like any of the other KC stuff I've heard on YouTube, which brings me back to the emperor's clothes (and I admit I'm maybe just not prog-rock attuned, confirmed by the fact I do like Floyd - particularly Animals - and Genesis). Any pointers as the likely identity of that KC tune will be gratefully received!


I've got all of Radiohead and I don't get them.

Honestly, I think it's because I don't get dope anymore either.

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